How Can Drones Go To Work for You

Drew Underdahl, Precision Ag Specialist (507) 696-4693

Driving along our local country side roads there is a sea of green starting to emerge in fields and although you may be able to see far across those fields now, before we know it the crops will be tall and our sight to the other side will be limited. What’s out of sight is out of mind, right? Well not quite, it’s important to remember that fields are variable from one side to another and what we identify at one point may be very different at another.

What tools will you use during the growing season to evaluate the health of your crops that may be out of sight? One of the tools we have utilized to gain this line of sight is remote sensing with Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) through satellite imagery which can provide useful information for in-season management decisions by measuring the amount of plant biomass throughout a field. Another technology which can capture these NDVI images are drones mounted with Near-Infrared (NIR) Sensors.

All American Co-op & Progressive Ag Center is excited to have our Precision Ag Team certified with their Remote Pilot Certificates, and a drone equipped with a Near-Infrared Sensor, 4K Camera and High Definition video to provide you with real time information, so you can make informed in-season management decisions.

Drones can be used to make informed decisions throughout the entire crop cycle. Here are a few examples;

Field Analysis: Before the crop is even in the ground, drones can be used to produce precise 3-D maps for early season field analysis. This 3-D map can be used to evaluate the elevation changes throughout your field. These insights may aid in decisions related to planting patterns, drainage patterns, and identifying changes in soil types throughout the field.

Early In-Season Management: Checking Stand counts and uniform emergence takes time, especially when you have a lot of acres to cover by foot. Drones now have the capability to provide you with stand counts, emergence patterns throughout the field, and other early season scouting information.

Mid-Late In-Season Management: Actionable Intelligence, the key to making informed management decisions to protect or increase yield. Drones can provide us with actionable intelligence during the growing season. One example is NIR sensors that detect vegetation levels based on the amount of light reflected off the leaves – the higher the biomass content, the more light that’s reflected. Measuring these vegetation levels leads to the creation of a Normalized Differentiation Vegetation Index (NDVI) Maps. These Maps show crop health throughout the field and allow us to pinpoint healthy areas and areas that call for further investigation by foot. Drones can also provide video and pictures to investigate, weeds, diseases, crop damage, and an overall snapshot of your entire fields that you would not be able to see from the ground.

Drones are an exciting step forward in precision agriculture and we are excited to share this technology with you. Please contact myself, Gary Suess or your Progressive Ag Center Agronomist to find out more about what benefits our drone can bring to your operation. 

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